Welsh hydrogen car company Riversimple is recruiting 100 test drivers to take part in the first trial of its kind in the UK.
Starting at the end of 2017, the 12 month beta-trial of its hydrogen-powered FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle), Rasa, will launch around Abergavenny in Wales, complete with hydrogen refueling point.
The ground-breaking trial will enable drivers to directly influence the final design of the car and the service, which will be offered on a subscription basis – similar to a mobile phone contract.
Testers will be able to drive the two-seater eco-car for 1-3 months, as part of a unique initiative with Monmouthshire County Council.
Riversimple director Fiona Spowers said, “We’re looking for fellow trailblazers to drive our beautifully engineered cars in everyday situations. Our beta-testers are crucial to our plan, and will be shaping the future of our business and maybe the future of motoring for everyone.
“Their input will feed into the Rasa’s final design. We have a safe, brilliantly engineered prototype that has completely wowed the likes of Chris Evans. Now, we are refining the design for everyday life. In the spirit of open source development, beta-test drivers will also advise us on creating a seamless, wonderful experience for future customers.
“We are interested in local people who have a clean driving licence and who tend to use their car for local journeys. The Rasa has a maximum speed of 60mph, so it is not designed for long distance motorway travel. It’s licensed to be on the road, but not finalised for production. “
The test is partly funded by a €2m grant from the European Union and from a crowdfunding round earlier this year, which exceeded its £1m target. Another funding round is planned.
Riversimple is the world’s only independent hydrogen car company and is currently the only business of its kind to adopt a circular business model, reducing waste and recycling parts wherever possible.
It will offer the Rasa on a service contract – with customers paying a monthly direct debit, with a fixed cost and mileage charge. Riversimple will pay for hydrogen, insurance and all maintenance, including tires, representing good value as the car ages.
Spowers said: “Driving is such an emotive, vital thing to many of us – our zero-emission cars offer the joy of driving, but with none of the hassle of ownership depreciation, dirty taxes and servicing extras. Our aim has always been to produce a car which is available to the many, not just the well-off and feedback from the trial will help to ensure we achieve this.”
The company is planning to install a hydrogen refueling point in one of the main car parks in Abergavenny. Refueling is simple, with a self–service pump and takes less than five minutes. Drivers attach a hose to the car, step back to the pump and press a button to fill the tank with 1.6kgs of hydrogen, lasting 300 miles. No money changes hands when you refill – the bill goes directly to Riversimple.